Pro-Israel campaigner's death was suicide, coroner rules

Jason Silver, 51, died in hospital days after hanging himself at his home


A prominent pro-Israel campaigner who killed himself became increasingly “obsessed” with Zionism in the last months of his life, an inquest has heard.

Jason Silver, 51, died in hospital on February 7 this year, days after hanging himself at his home in Essex.

Sarah Bourke, the assistant coroner for Inner North London, heard during the inquest in Poplar on Tuesday that, in the months before his death, Mr Silver became increasingly “obsessed” with pro-Israel activism.

Mr Silver, who owned and ran a podiatry practice, had been diagnosed with depression in 2013. His medical records showed that a psychiatrist had also raised the possibility that he suffered from bipolar disorder.

His widow, Claire Silver, told the inquest that he had abused cocaine for a number of years. She learned after his death that he had stopped taking medication for “about seven months”.

Mrs Silver said: “His moods were very erratic. He wouldn’t sleep – his mood could be very chaotic. He had some high points but mostly he was very low. He became very paranoid, very angry and very aggressive.

“He became increasingly interested in politics – but it was very specific. He was very pro-Israel, and very anti-Palestine. But that was a recent thing. He had never been like that before.

“He just became obsessed with it. It’s all he would talk about all the time – to his patients, to everybody.”

The inquest heard that Mr Silver became “upset” after being thrown out of the 2017 Palestine Expo event after he put on a kippah.

Mr Silver began to believe there was a far-reaching "conspiracy" to cover up antisemitism when the PalExpo organisers were not prosecuted and the media was not interested.

Mrs Silver said the episode compounded his feelings of “agitation and injustice”. At the same time his name was also included in a list of prominent Zionist activists published by pro-Palestinian activist.

His name and details of his practice were listed, and complaints were subsequently lodged with the Health and Care Professions Council, the regulatory body overseeing his practice.

Mrs Silver and Michael Newson, a friend of Mr Silver, both described him as a “kind, friendly” man, whose interests included nature, photography and caring for his pet dog.

Ms Bourke also considered evidence from PC John Pollard, one of the police officers who found Mr Silver, and a series of doctors before reaching her verdict.

She said: “In my view all actions required Jason to take positive steps. In undertaking those actions Jason’s mind would have been focused on ending his life.

“There would have been a number of opportunities to reconsider his actions. I am satisfied that at the point at which Jason suspended himself he did so with the intention of ending his life.

“In the circumstances it is appropriate for me to return a conclusion of suicide.”

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